Video of Giant Hornet Attacking Mouse Emerges Following Reports of 'Murder' Species in U.S.

A video of a giant hornet attacking a mouse has emerged following news a "murder" species has invaded the U.S.

In the clip, the hornet pursues the mouse for roughly a minute, remaining attached as the mouse attempts to bat it off. The mouse gets weaker and eventually gives up. At which point the hornet flies off and the mouse lies still breathing heavily.

The footage was shared online this week by Welcome To Nature, a twitter account dedicated to posting photos and videos of animals, and has since had more than 300,000 views.

While the tweet contains little information on the species of hornet involved or where and when the event took place, it has been on YouTube since at least 2018. Seirian Sumner, reader in Behavioral Ecology at University College London (UCL) in the U.K. told Newsweek it appears to be a European hornet (Vespa crabro).

Dave Goulson, Professor of Biology at the University of Sussex in the U.K., agreed and said that it looks like the hornet is preying on the mouse. "Hornets are carnivorous essentially. My guess is it's a young mouse. It wouldn't normally be out in the daytime so perhaps it was injured in some way or unwell to start with," he told Newsweek.

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"The hornet clearly fancies its chances and sees a large meal there. It looks to me very much as if it's trying to kill it so that they can eat it. Hornets don't normally attack mammalian prey, it must be said."

Goulson said he has not seen an attack like this before but that may be because hornets and mice rarely cross paths—hornets are daytime creatures, mice are typically nocturnal. Hornets have, however, been known to attack insects much larger than themselves and will eat chunks of meat if they are left out for it, he added.

European hornet (Vespa crabro) stock image
Stock image of a European hornet. Footage has emerged of a hornet attacking a mouse. Simon002/iStock

Though not a native species, the European hornet was first reported in the U.S. in 1840, when it was sighted in New York. Today, its range extends across much of the eastern and central U.S., reaching as far west as the Dakotas and as far south as Florida.

But it is not the only species of hornet to cross into North America. The clip of the mouse and hornet was shared shortly after news that Asian giant hornets—or "murder hornets"—have invaded the U.S.

As Newsweek reported Monday, the non-native species, Vespa mandarinia, was recently spotted in North America. It is thought that the species was seen after it had emerged from hibernation in April.

The sighting comes just months after the first-ever confirmed report of an Asian giant hornet in the states, which was reported in Blaine, Washington, near the U.S. Canada border, in December 2019. Canada has also confirmed the presence of Asian giant hornets at two locations in British Columbia.

Asian giant hornets are much larger than the European hornet, which is around 1 to 1.4 inches long. Asian giant hornets reache an average length between 1.5 and 2 inches, making it the largest species of hornet in the world.

As well as its size, Vespa mandarinia can be identified by its large orange or yellow head, its prominent eyes and it black and yellow striped abdomen. The species forms large colonies that nest on the ground, while individual hornets carry a venamous sting more toxic than that of a honeybee, and they can use it repeatedly.

Beekeeper Conrad Bérubé told The New York Times that being stung by an Asian giant hornet felt like "having red-hot thumbtacks being driven into my flesh."

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has warned that if the species becomes established it could have a harmful effect on the state's environment and economy, as well as public health.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals bees, wasps and hornets are already responsible for approximately 62 deaths in the U.S. each year. According to a study published in 2006, the the giant Asian hornet is responsible for between 30 and 50 fatalities in Japan annually. Deaths are primarily caused by anaphylaxis or sudden cardiac arrest.

However, one of the main concerns is related to honeybees. Brent Sinclair, Professor of Biology at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, came across the species while completing research in southeast China. It is thought they have since arrived in North America by hitchhiking on a cargo trip.

"They're amazing; they're enormous, like little helicopters," he said in a statement.

"I saw them perched on trees, hawking bees as they came into the hive—much like a sharp-shinned hawk at a bird feeder. They are really bad news for beekeepers."

According to the WSDA, it takes only a few hornets a few hours to destroy a hive of honeybees. During this "slaughter phase," they decapitate bees and defend the hive as if it is their own, using the brood as food for their own young.

Video of Giant Hornet Attacking Mouse Emerges Following Reports of 'Murder' Species in U.S. | Tech & Science